Ohio Taxes: The Negative Effect

cigarette taxesOver the past 4th of July weekend, the State of Ohio decided to spring a $0.70 tax hike on all smokers. A pack of Camels or Marlboros will now set you back about $4.35. While a few are resigned to pay the increase and grumble a bit, others are cutting their tobacco consumption or outright quitting. The more entrepreneurial types are scheming ways to drive trailers full of cartons from North Carolina or hijack shipments and sell them a la Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop.

Now, while it’s too soon to tell if the net effect of the tax increase will be more revenue the state so badly needs to continue its wasteful path of spending and scandalous losses (“hey, let’s put $50 million into rare coins and have $10 million worth of them stolen“), my bet is that the net effect will be more pissed off voters feeming for a cigarette and taking that bitchiness to the poll. Think of New York City, where smoking has become scarce and tax revenue has shrunk to a pittance while out-of-state smuggling has become the norm.

About the only thing the Republicans could do in the next year to seal their political fate would be to hike alcohol taxes and gas taxes, or alternately less insidious: drive to every constituent’s house and do donuts on their front lawn and leave flaming bags of dog shit on their stoop.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a gung-ho smoking advocate in any way, I don’t think we should be able to force our smoking habits into any restaurant and bar in the same way the anti-smoking lobby tries to force us out. In fact I don’t think either side has a damn thing to say about how a business is run or what kind of customers it chooses to cater to. But I do have a problem with trying to bring in taxes with the left hand and shun with the right, that’s just old-fashioned hypocrisy.

Here’s an idea for a ballot initiative: how about we personally tax the politicians double the amount every time they fuck up? Lose $200 million in a shady hedge fund… send an invoice to the politicians who voted for that stupid move. Instant accountability from these dumb bastards.

[Disclaimer: I am an advocate and member of the campaign to elect a libertarian governor in 2006. While I am still under NDA as far as details of the campaign, it doesn’t hurt to say that this is shaping up to be a real blockbuster race for libertarians and a potential win.]

4 Comments
  1. Using taxes to regulate behavior has been going on for centuries. In this case, the revenue is less important than the behavior modification, especially since in a scheme like this, if the desired behavior changes occur, revenue will decrease.

  2. I am generally in agreement with the Libertarian ideal as pertaining to the subject matter of Tobbaco Taxation programs. As a Bullmoose Republican I consider myself progressive and as an American Patriot I am naturally inclined, as is every free man, to the greater liberty available, inasmuch as reason will permit.

    The Tobbaco Crusade must end with absolute federal authoritarianism pertaining to diet and food production. Not only that but anyone who understands the nature of food additives knows that we are all ingesting pounds of chemicals per year. In other words cigarrettes are full of chemicals that will make you ill and addict you to them, and so is almost everything else produced in this country. As an example Diet Soda Pops are extremely addictive, just ask anyone who drinks them regularly whether they feel a need to use, and they’re not even that much healthier than regular soda pops.

    I also am of an inimitable understanding of the history of Tobbaco in this Nation, and I am not as quick to pass judgment on such an enterprise as has been benificient to many throughout the history of the Virginia Company, now known as the U.S. and has produced for the world the profit of liberty and Democratic process on a grand scale.

    In conclusion I must say to my amnesiac Anglican-American brethren that if your skin is not red you can thank Tobbaco for being in this country.

  3. IO ERROR-

    I must respectfully disagree with your opinion. I do not believe raising the price of cigarettes or any other addictive substance will be much of an exercise in behavior modification. It is those that want to impose their will on others and control their behavior (actions) that press for social change through laws.

    I was a heavy smoker (3 packs per day) as Stephen can verify. I decided to quit on my own volition (it was not easy) and have not smoked for 8 years now. The government has no business attempting to regulate this kind of behavior any more than they had when prohibition against alcohol was in effect during the 1920’s. I also choose not to drink for the same reasons I choose not to smoke but I am not going to impose my will on smokers and drinkers.

    No question cigarettes will kill and no question the tobacco industry has known this for at least 50 years. Also, it is really stupid to smoke. But to target a minority group with a special tax is just wrong. This is what all freedom loving people and groups should be resisting, not just select issues that are pet projects.

    No government sanctioned punishment (high taxes, fines or jail) persuades me to quit behaviors that are destructive. I must and have decided to end the behaviors on my own, not by government decree.

  4. My state, California, is leading the anti-smoking pack of states. Although I think their campaign is losing steam, as I am constantly seeing more and more people smoking.

    The taxes are completely ridiculous and are just a big money grab from a less popular at the time minority group.

    Smokers are some of the most compassionate people. Every time they buy a pack of cigarettes, they are supporting childrens afterschool activities and beaurecratic pork that would otherwise likely cut into education spending or something else that seems worthwhile. Smokers are also helping to save social security. Everybody has to die some time. The longer we live, the more likely we are going to get cancer or heart disease anyways – smokers are simply speeding up the process a bit, and saving the next generation of children that will be making the S.S. payments money.

    Taxes on cigarettes should be cut. Businesses should not be restricted from catering to smokers. If they must be regulated for health reasons, there should be an air quality standard that if met, would remove any ban on smoking if the business owner wishes. I’ve heard business owners discuss that they would be happy to upgrade ventillation systems that would turn over the air X times per hour, and exceed air quality standards of current non-smoking businesses, if they could cater to smokers.

    Just to be fair, it is time to stop subsidizing tobacco production. Drop the taxes on the state level and remove the federal subsidies.

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